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Perceptions aren’t everything in politics… but…let’s look at UK polling February 8, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Dispiriting, but not unexpected to read this week in the Guardian that the latest ICM poll has the following party support levels:

Conservatives: 42% (no change from Guardian/ICM two weeks ago)
Labour: 27% (up 1)
Ukip: 12% (down 1)
Lib Dems: 10% (no change)
Greens: 4% (down 1)
Conservative lead: 15 points (down 1)

That new dawn after Brexit for the British left appears as far away as ever. Labour’s position is lamentable and considerably worse and by quite some distance than it was before the Brexit referendum (the gift that keeps taking that is).

But hold on, I hear someone say, how much worse? Well, consider that ICM/Guardian in January of last year had Tories on 40% and Labour on 35%. There was quite some variability in other polls, particularly as the referendum drew nearer, but the massive leads that the Tories now enjoy had not opened up with any real consistencey.

Note too the remarkable tenacity of UKIP, still holding on to 12% of the vote. Put that together with the Tory vote and that means currently you’ve got a right and hard right vote of 54%.

But perception, as mentioned in the heading to this post. What of that?

ICM also asked some questions about when people expect to see a Labour government, and they show the party falling back a little since September. Here are the figures.
Asked how soon they expect to see Labour return to government, people replied:
At the 2020 election: 15% (was 16% when ICM asked the same question in September)
At the 2025 election: 18% (was 20%)
Total by 2025: 33% (was 36%)
At the 2030 election: 13% (no change)
At the 2035 election: 3% (no change)
At the 2040 election: 2% (was 4%)
Later than this, or never: 10% (was 6%)
Don’t know: 39% (was 37%)

That is deeply disturbing.

What is most puzzling about all this is a basic reality. After the previous UK General Election and the loss of Scotland for the near to (possibly) medium term by the BLP it was clear that from that alone that the party faced a massive challenge to bid for state power. Indeed very possibly that loss (outside perhaps a coalition with the SNP) might lock it out of power for a generation – and should Scotland gain its independence, well that would be a whole new ball game.

Yet, Brexit, as was near inevitable given that it was a process initiated and managed by the Tories at the prodding of the further right, could only serve to exacerbate the problems the BLP faced, sharpening divisions within the UK between its constituent elements, dividing the working class as reaction played to deeply problematic issues that again would run in rightwards and far rightwards direction and all this on top of a new, somewhat radical, leadership facing profound (and unfair) internal division in the party.

The idea that this could ever be a left moment appears when that balance, or rather imbalance, of political forces is detailed, to be a triumph of hope over reality.

And I think this casts Corbyn’s seeming lack of enthusiasm during the referendum in a slightly different light. He, I would suspect, was well aware that whatever way this played out was going to be profoundly difficult for the BLP and for the hopes of those who wanted shot of the Tories.


1. irishelectionliterature - February 8, 2017

The Stoke and Copeland By-Elections will tell us a lot about Labour (and UKIP).
Both Labour and UKIP are throwing the kitchen sink at Stoke with UKIP trying to overturn a 5000 Labour majority.
It will be interesting to see if the voting dynamic is now predominantly pro and anti Brexit as UKIP hope.
In Copeland The Tories are trying to overturn a 2,500 Labour majority.
I suspect Labour may hold on in Stoke but not in Copeland.


WorldbyStorm - February 8, 2017

Key point you make there and one with disastrous implications for the left – a pro or anti brexit dynamic is almost akin to ‘culture wars’ in the US where class and economic issues are sidelined


irishelectionliterature - February 8, 2017

Exactly, it has already raised its head in the Richmond Park By Election which The Lib Dems won. You also had the fact there that the Greens (and The Women’s Equality Party) didn’t stand and backed the Lib Dems. Although some of that was due to Heathrow , being anti Brexit was the main part.
It will be interesting if going forward there is some kind of Anti Brexit “Soft Centre” Alliance involving the Lib Dems, Greens and so on in areas where they can actually challenge for seats. Further framing electoral politics, in England anyway, pro and Anti Brexit.


Ed - February 8, 2017

The national significance of the Richmond by-election was exaggerated, I think: that was a seat that had traditionally been contested very closely between the Tories and the Lib Dems, with Labour way behind. The Lib Dems had fallen back drastically in 2015 (some of their traditional voters not happy with the coalition, others perfectly happy with it and voting for the bigger government party instead); it seems like they won back those voters from Goldsmith in the by-election with an anti-Brexit line. It was more like a return to the pattern before 2015 than a very dramatic shift, and in any case you can’t just transfer the same dynamic to the rest of the country; the two by-elections coming up will probably give a better sense of where things are at.

(BTW, the local Green activists in Richmond supported the Labour candidate, not the Lib Dems, unlike the Green leader Caroline Lucas; Lucas has been fairly consistent since Corbyn became Labour leader in positioning her party to the right of Labour, trying to occupy the same ground as the Lib Dems.)


2. Ed - February 8, 2017

The current poll figures for Labour are dire, but the question about 2025 (and after!) is absurd, a clear example of a poll that sets out to frame opinion rather than describe it (and that was the aspect seized upon by the Guardian). Who in their right mind would claim to know where things are going to stand with UK politics in eight years’ time? Just think how much the current political landscape would have astonished somebody from a 2009 vantage point—not to mention what they’d make of developments in other Western countries.


3. GW - February 8, 2017

Light-relief dept:

Anyone who knows a bit the medieval period in the Western European islands might find this funny. I suspect a grad student of history, prevaricating about writing her thesis.

Y. truly repeats the mantra – “I will not be sucked into the Twittervers, I will not…”


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